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Ian Couryer- Fly Fishing Guiding Services - South Africa.  

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News letter December 2018 / new products

With all the controversy of increased levels of pollution on the Vaal River this 2018 season,many anglers have decided to stay away.

The fishing has been good thus far despite initial low flow levels of around 10 cumecs with clear vis of around 40 cms. In the last couple of weeks despite the flow readings on the Reservoir site still reading at 10, I found that at Eendekuil the flow was at least 20. Visibility has also deteriorated markedly to a dusty 30 cms. 

There has been a definite trend of late that the fishing deteriorates outside the early morning sessions and this is usually an indication of high water temperatures. I don't believe the water temperatures are particularly high but we know that decomposing sewage will rob the water of much of its oxygen causing fish to stop feeding or seek out pockets of cooler better oxygenated water. 


After a couple of dodgy self initiated experiments I would say that the water is no more harmful to ones health than it has been over the last few years,the difference being that the pollution story has only just hit main stream news and has been exploited on social media.



I have been wearing waders on the river for at least the last ten years due to the amount of time I spend in potentially polluted water. Despite wading wet this season with the normal cuts and nicks on my person, biting off flies etc I have remained healthy and without the stomach problems normally associated with this type of pollution.However It should be noted that there are other poisons and toxins in the water, so we are told, besides "floaters" that can have a far more serious impact on your health.

I am still guiding at my usual haunts on the river but please be aware that the river is polluted and so I would recommend wearing waders, breathable waders are best, wearing chest high neoprenes will probably kill you faster than any pollution in the current elevated temperatures and are not recommended, neither are cheap plastic booted numbers.If you fall in and take a few good swallows, you may be in trouble, so every person needs to decide whether the risk is worth it. 

It is my belief that these toxins were always in the system due to mining practices and illegal dumping, etc, hence the waders. It is a sad fact that many of our systems, the Vaal, the Olifants, the Jukskei and the Crocodile have been terribly abused over time and are potentially hazardous to the health of wading anglers.

Fosaf.( Federation of South African fly fishers) is recommending people don't fish the middle Vaal at all this season until such time a proper clean up has been effected. As an organization which professes to be the voice of fly fishers in this country, how about doing a few water tests? and thus help fly fishers be made exactly aware of what is in the water so they can make an educated decision whether to fish or not. That would be an organization to support! 


PARTRIDGE FLY HOOKS.       New Product For S.A.   

Partridge hooks are now available in South Africa through Xplorer Fly fishing. Partridge are a British hook manufacturing company and reputedly make among the best quality fly hooks in the world, there are several styles to choose from.

I bought myself a couple of packets of Partridge Patriot barbless wide gape jig hooks in black nickle finish for tying yellowfish flies and tied some of my favourite point fly patterns on the size 18 Jig hooks.They have a short shank, massive gape and a beaked point ( what I would call a rolled point ),which helps keep the barbless fly in the fish.These are not heavy wire hooks,especially in a size 18, but man are they strong! That's what quality is all about in fly hooks, making a tiny, thin piece of metal strong enough to hold a big fish, retain its shape and keep a point.

I caught several yellows on the jigs including one of around 2.5kgs which was hooked in the tip of the snout, an area which normally does not a allow for a great hook hold. I am sold. I bullied that fish using more than normal pressure to land him and I couldn't believe the strength, penetration and holding power of the hook. Truly impressive. If you are going to the trouble of tying your own flies, a good hook is an investment and these are the very best hooks I have yet fished.

For the yellowfish addict there are several relevant styles of freshwater hooks including curved caddis nymph hooks, 2 styles of jig hooks, nymph and dry hooks, Klinkhammer hooks and specialist Czech nymph hooks to name but a few. They come highly recommended! Based on my brief tests of the product I am now tying most of my smallmouth patterns on Partridge.

Rio Tippet Material, Leaders and tippet rings.

Since the days I was a part owner in the old Laxtons Hunting and Fishing in Illovo, Sandton, I have been a fan of Rio terminal tackle. As you can imagine in a fly shop you get to sample many different products first hand and make up your own mind based on your experiences. Sure, there are probably some other tippet materials and leaders I haven't sampled yet that are also good, but I can tell you I use Rio and it IS fantastic stuff, with a consistency that I trust and is fresh and readily available. I use standard Powerflex tippet ( Red and Yellow spool ) and Powerflex leaders for nymphing and have for the last 25 years. For fluorocarbon, which I do fish on dries in certain situations and plenty with nymphs, I like fluoroflex and also use fluoroflex plus. ( purple /yellow spool )

I have just started using Suppleflex tippet and leader for small stream trout and small dry flies and so far I have been very impressed with how supple and strong the material is. The softer and thinner the tippet material, the more naturally a fly will drift.

Boiling Leaders. A little tip for fishing somewhere like Sterkfontein, where you need to fish light for large fast running fish, normally ( 5x ) to have the best chance of fish eating. If you are not used to fishing this thin, you will undoubtedly have a few break offs while getting use to how much pressure to exert. 

Take a fresh Powerflex leader straight out of the packet ( still coiled ) and drop it into a pot of already boiling water on the stove, for just 2 minutes. Remove with a fork and leave to cool on the kitchen counter. This isn't something new, but it will help minimize break offs by turning your leader into a bungi chord without sacrificing breaking strain. I would also recommend tying a tippet ring on the end of your leader and then attaching your fine tippet to this. In lightweight tippet material with a low breaking strain you will loose less breaking strength compared to mono on mono knots between leader and tippet.

Trust me, every little bit helps!  

Tippet Tips. While on the subject of tippet you may have experienced when fishing dry fly on light tippet, occasionally you fish a larger, more air resistant fly that twists the tippet. 

There are a few ways to avoid this happening. The first thing I do is shorten the tippet appreciably. If this still doesn't have the desired result then attach the fly to the tippet with a non slip mono loop. If this still doesn't stop the fly from twisting the tippet then you will either have to fish a different fly or go to a thicker diameter tippet. Light tippet is for small flies! 

Larger flies with extensive hackles are about the worst tippet twisters but larger CDC flies, due to the soft nature of the material are seldom a problem.

XPLORER GUIDE II XTENDA FLY RODS

In view of the recent yellowfish workshops I have been presenting over the last while, I was kindly given an Xplorer guide II series X- tenda Fly Rod by John Geils the owner of Xplorer on the proviso that I fish it. The rods come in a 3 weight and a 4 weight and I chose the 4 weight for nymphing on the Vaal river. The three weight would be the ideal choice for most South African trout rivers.

The interesting and clever thing about the rod is that it converts from a 9' 4 weight rod ( my favourite weight for dry fly on the river or stillwaters), into a 10' 4 weight for Euro nymphing by adding an extension piece above the butt section. You can achieve the extra length without having to re-rig the rod as the extension has no eyes, this makes the rod ideal for a wide ranges of specialist tasks. 

Xplorer Xtenda 10' 4 weight smallmouth release.

I can't help but admire this kind of progressive, creative thinking from Xplorer, something that puts them at the top of the local brands. Well done!

I found the rod to be light, sensitive and responsive and it was a treat to Euro/Czech nymph with, with none of the top heaviness usually associated with longer rods. If rod colour matters to you, it is an attractive matt olive with gold trim, sensible and good looking. It looks like a serious fly rod and is, performing exceptionally well in all departments. Believe me it was put through its paces properly, pulling a good few fish in heavy current.

Although a 4 weight is what I would describe as a 'light 'Rod for the Vaal it does also have enough backbone to land the larger fish that are usually on offer. 

There is a definite move towards 10 foot rods for the river in this country and fishing lighter in general, I believe having a guide II Xtenda in your arsenal will definitely enhance your fish catching ability and the bonus is it is 2 rods for the price of one.

Lighter line weight rods are inherently more sensitive, resulting in more finesse which is usually lacking in many Vaal river smallmouth yellowfish techniques. Yellowfish fly fishing has reached maturity and if you want to catch the numbers you used to, you need to be a better more adaptable all round fisherman, this rod will undoubtedly help you achieve that aim.

Celebrity Guiding with Ian Couryer.

Ian has been privileged to guide several celebrities and "A" listers over the years and continues to be the informed, trusted choice as a yellowfish guide, fly fishing mentor and consultant to many VIPs.

Recently Ian was the fly fishing consultant on an advert shoot in the Drakensberg where he helped well known local actor Gys De Villiers ( Geraamtes in die Kas) with his fly fishing.

Gys De Villiers and Ian

Local actor Gys De Villiers and Ian, Drakensberg Shoot 2014, wearing Jeep technical shirts.

At the beginning of the season Ian guided Hollywood "A" list actor and all round nice guy Lee Pace of "Lord or the Rings" fame, and more recently as the villain in "Guardians Of The Galaxy," He enjoyed a day off, getting into a few "African yellows" at a local venue.  

Hollywood actor Lee Pace and Ian on the Vaal September 2014.


6 pounds of spirited Warrenton Largemouth


Maui Jim Premium Polarized Sunglasses

After wearing and testing his new glasses for the last 4 years in a variety of fishing conditions, Ian endorses, wears and trusts Maui Jim sunglasses for all his fishing and guiding. 

Maui Jim impress with their superior optics, quality, and the best back up and guarantees in the business. Less hype and  more protection, they are in every way superior to some of the other big name products.

Spawning Smallmouth Yellowfish

Male smallmouth showing breeding tubercles on head and gill covers.

As the Smallmouth Yellowfish season starts (beginning of October) we need to be on the look out for spawning fish and avoid them. Smallmouth Yellows prefer to spawn on the downstream side of rocks in fast flowing shallow water. Water of between ankle and mid calf depth is prime water. Try to stay away from these areas and if you see fish spawning and thrashing around please leave them in peace.

Mud fish also spawn at this time of year and most of the muddies will spawn in the tail areas of riffles, often just off the main flow where the current is less intense. If you see a "step" of shallow rock extending across the river, the yellows will spawn on the downstream side at the base of the rocks and the mud fish will spawn immediately above the step in the tail of the pool / run.

Check out a picture of a seldom seen aquatic caterpillar in the Gallery.

CASTING CLINICS

Casting Clinics - Cedar Square Dams, R 300.00 per person per hour. Pre-booking essential.

Limited to 10 people per session.

Contact for next date available. 

 

SMALLMOUTH / LARGEMOUTH WORKSHOPS, see Yellowfish Workshops